The Nutcracker

This year, I was invited to play the Nutcracker over in Livermore. I don’t get to play enough in orchestras, and I’ve never played the Nutcracker before, so I pounced on the opportunity.

Because it is a seasonal thing, and there are probably 20 or so performances, the various clarinet players opt to “rotate” parts to keep from getting bored. There are 3 parts: 1st, 2nd and Bass. So when I agreed to play, they signed me up for one of each.

“The Nutcracker” is sort of the musical equivalent of death and taxes. You can’t avoid it if you are a symphony player. One player I chatted with who was in Boston, estimated she has played more than 6,000 performances of the work. The conductor of one of my bands estimated he has played the better part of 1,000 performances. It’s at the point that he doesn’t need the music anymore. He puts a magazine or book on the stand to read during the performance.

I have never played the work and for me it’s still new and shiny. So I happily went and found the parts and printed them out. That’s when I found out that the three clarinet parts clock in at over 120 pages of music.

That is an insane amount of music. For example, I have a 300 page study book (Klose, a traditional clarinet method book) that in individual weekly lessons my professor and I went through in 2 years.

I am trying to brush up 120 pages (that is 6 continuous hours of music) in a few weeks for performance.

Wish me luck. 🙂

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